Archive for March, 2014

Are you a story teller or an author?

This is a never ending argument I find on the social network boards.  Writers out there are always tossing back and forth this question.  They argue about whether they are writers or authors, whether they should show or tell and a lot of other things that writer really never argued about before the advent of the net.  Or so I hope.

You see I call myself a writer.  Pure and simple this means I write stories, poems and what ever comes into the twisted thing I call a brain.  As a teller of tales that are not factual I have a lot of places to play.  The one place I will not go is a place were I am expected to the the absolute boring every day truth.  I want flights of fantasy and I will write them for as long as the words pressure me to spill them out.

Now the title of this rant is about being a story teller or an author.  Lately is seems like being an author is starting to be a cuss word.  Authors are expected to put out perfect literary masterpieces, no matter the field they are writing in.  Well folks I hate to say this but most of those literary masterpieces bore the rest of the audiences out there to tears.  It is no coincidence that the biggest money making movies are purely fun.  They don’t have a lot of so called depth (but they can) but have characters that we can relate to and stories that touch our minds and our hearts.

I am a story teller, that is what I do.  Most of my work is in that short category of short stories.  Something you can sit down and read in anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.  As I put on my author bios short stories are the modern fireside tales.   They take use, if only briefly, outside of ourselves and isn’t that what we all want?  If we wanted reality we would be reading the newspapers or watching the news right?

There is a discussion on LinkedIn about short stories and it is very devisive.  One one side is those who believe that like a joke a short story much have a punchline and that the whole story much lead to that final punch line.  I wisely stepped away from this group.  While i have done stories that had a forgone conculsion, I have never done a punchline ending.

When I start a story I have an image in my mind, or a voice in my ear.  The story is being told to me by my muse or by the characters and I am just the fingers typing it down.  (Yes really)  Telling a story is what we all should be doing if we are doing fiction.

Showing a story is what a movie maker does.  They are not telling a tale, they are showing it to you.  If you are telling a tale you are painting images into the mind of your reader but you are not forcing them to see the story as you see it.  When I first wrote the first Guardian story, Harry was just a regular guy walking around with a bat.  He wasn’t a hero so much as a guy keeping his neighborhood safe but as reviews came in people came to see him as a sort of modern Sam Spade and the character changed.

Over the centuries before books became possible story tellers would sit around the fire and tell stories of heroes and villains and each person would put their own take on what they heard.    The wise storyteller learned to work with his audience and tales evolved.  That is not to say that the story teller lost control of his or her character or story but they learned and evolved as they continued.

Most of those who consider themselves authors in this new century have a bit of arrogance that has not been knocked out of them yet.  The belief that they are writing deathless prose and that everyone else is writing crap.  Now I am not saying i haven’t had this belief myself from time to time, mostly when I read something that is selling  hundreds of copies and is so filled with bad story telling and cliches but is edited well that I want to throw it across the room and scream.  I know I can do better, have done better but well I have yet to sell more than forty copies of one title total.  It can be depressing and enough to make a story teller either want to sell out or to give up.

Wow I have rambled all over here haven’t I?  The thing I wanted to focus on was remember something here folks.  We are story tellers.  No matter if we are writing fantasy, horror, mysteries, romance, historicals or whatever.  We are telling a story.  We are not remaking the world.  We are offering entertainment for those who have the time to sit down and relax with a good tale.  If you want to call yourself an author, so be it.  Don’t run down those who write differently than you and definitely try to remember that you too are a story teller. It is the story that is important.  We all tell them differently and that is a good thing.  We don’t want assembly line fiction do we?  If we did we would be doing the reality tv of the literary arts and the world doesn’t need that now does it?

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Races in Fantasy or we can write about more than elves

Now usually I give you excerpts or drabbles in this blog but I thought why not expand a bit.  See as a fantasy writer I have been exploring a lot of different takes on the races in my tales.  In general fantasy fiction you have the basic races of human, elf, dwarf and orc.  Now I have written plenty of things in my past that do involve those races of course.  With my Saga of Loralil Greyfox books in fact we have three of those four races all ready showing up in the first duology of books.

In The Traveler I had Elves and Dwarves but I delved into a different type of elf and of course other races.  Classic fantasy has the tall, etheral elves who are masters of whatever craft they decide to be.  They tend to be detracted from the everyday world, thinking in the long term of centuries and in my opinion they quite often are portrayed as racists.  It is in faery tales that we get more of the lessor known elven races and realize that like any species there are more than one type.  So in The Traveler I had a Pooka, an elven race that transforms into a horse.  Commonly they are portrayed as more of a dark race, hunting down beings to drown them but I switched it up.

In the Loralil books my main character is small.  At 4’11” she is tiny but strong and I made sure to add in the other races of Elf to give a richer feel to the world.

But in modern takes on fantsy, namely the subgenre of Paranormal romance there has been a large influx of Angels or angel like races.  They are shown as good, fighting against demons or devils or firblog in one series.  Now while this can be interesting I wanted to delve into the other winged races that a basis in folk lore and legends.

In the first of my Flights in Fantasy novella series, Where Angels No Longer Tread I introduced a race called the Ariels.  They look like angels but they really aren’t.  If there had been a race of winged human like creatures in humanity’s distant past the humans would have of course called them everything from gods to angels, depending on their belief systems.  In Angels I put together a long forgotten race of winged humanoids, Ariels.  Here is how Zephyr started to explain things.

***

I closed my eyes and sighed.   “I said I am not an angel, and I am not.  I am not from that pantheon, not from that world.”  My voice sank down in the sorrow as I remembered the being I once was.  “Before mankind turned to the religions it follows now so faithfully, there were beings who flew, who floated, who lived at one with the air. They lived on laughter and sunshine, on light and love.”

Hunter’s eyes widened as what I said sunk in.  He whispered, almost in awe as I winced.  “You’re an Ariel?”

Shuddering as that word, so softly spoken raked across my soul, I nodded, and then shook my head.  “I WAS an Ariel.  I have not been one for longer than man has lived on this land.”

***

As she believes she is the last of her kind, a cursed being who has been abused and used throughout centuries she is a tragic character.  I let the story evolve and tell bits and pieces of a culture came into being.  That is what we, as storytellers, need to do.  To start a tale and then build it to a richness that hopefully enthralls the reader.

I have other tales in the works right now.  Tales in both fantasy and the science fantasy genres.  Where the first book was a paranormal romance, with all the sex you could want the next stories may or may not have some.

In the tale with the working title, Angels and Music (yes that will change) I have two beings who are fleeing through a destroyed cityscape.  Being chased by demonlike beings they again look like what we think of as angels in the modern world of the 21st century.  They are in fact a form of Valkyrie.  Winged beings who are warriors and more.  Here is a snippet from the opening of the tale.

***

The Music swelled in the darkness chasing behind them like a flock of valkerie intent on sending their souls down to hell.  Nothing made sense in this place.  Each emotion, each motion was accompanied by music straight from a mad Broadway play.  The heavy guitar runs sped up, forcing them to move faster across the broken cement streets, two dark forms flashing of silver and gold.

The glowing red figures behind them were followed by the sounds of tortured strings and voices cursing in ancient Latin, the creatures threw fire and lightening at them.  Both were singed from glancing blows but they knew they were being herded somewhere.  They ducked and dodged  but they just couldn’t shake the hounds following them.

The taller, golden figure paused for a moment, bracing the smaller, silver haloed form.  Eyes darting about, she spotted a lighter section in the unrelenting gloom.  Turning, she guided her burden toward what she hoped was a doorway.  Whether to a room or another realm it would be safer than the haunted streets.

***

The next tale in the works has a working title of Angels from the Sky.  This tale deals with interworld travel and warfare.  Set in a world much like our own but with gate ways that dump sometimes unexpecting visitors into our world.  They are mostly living in the shadows, only know to a few small organizations that try to monitor and protect or arrest those unexpected guests in our reality.  While i have written many a tale with gates in them, usually those gates are between universe, not between worlds.  Here is the opening paragraph for this tale of science fantasy

***

A figure crouched on the rooftop, eyes darting about, watching the crowds below.  It was nearly midnight but on this night it didn’t matter.  The new year would break soon and the people below were partying to fit the occasion. Is they knew just what was wandering the crowds the tone of anticipation would turn to panic in an instant.  Among the cheers and babbling, a single cry caused the shadowy form to spin about and start running.  Just as it reached the edge it leapt and fell.  A sharp snap filled the air as white wings opened and the figure flew away from the crowds, unnoticed

***

A shadowy figure who could be good or bad, they story will tell.  I have introduced into that tale a special police unit that deals with the drop ins and protects them from the gangbangers who also live in the neighborhoods where they have settled.

There are two other tales I have in the works that will be a part of this series.  The first has the working title of Wings and will be the tale of a winged elf.  I started that tale way back when I was in my twenties and I will not force upon you gentle readers the truly awful badness of the file.  It has the bones of an interesting tale waiting to be plucked from the corps of a truly bad bit of early writing.  As authors we should never toss away or delete our old work for there is always a gem waiting to be polished, it just takes time for use to realize the ability to polish it up.

The forth tale is much more polished than Wings but it is really an erotic fantasy tale.  A man without wings but made of magic, wind and rain.  This tale is erotic from the very first bit and will probably only get more so.  While the man does not have wings as of yet, it is still a take on the angel as lover that is so popular.  This man is quicksilver and magic, made out of a wish and desire.  Rain and mist swirled with air to make a man but is that all he is?  No of course not.  For magic and desire are not all that is needed for a good tale.

As I have said exploring new and different takes on the genre tropes is what a good author does.  Writing fantasy we have the privilege of being able to take and build on what has come before.  We are not stuck to the same old same old.  While the other genres explore man’s inhumanity to man, we get to show a much bigger cast of characters while hopefully still keeping to what makes fantasy the oldest of the story telling genres.  We have had tales of magic from the days of living in caves till now.  We introduce beings from outside the human condition and make them believable in todays’ world of science and technology.

While the genre itself is evolving there is of course one truth we must remember.  That our stories are in fact fantasies no matter what genre we write in.  Fiction is of course a lie wrapped up in a bow and made interesting but lies that hold more truth than the real life news we read, hear and see every day.  Many of us wish that the races in fantasy existed.  Who says they don’t?

Over the next few blog posts i hope to go more in depth into the different races we expect to read.  From the popular stories of teen fiction to those much lessor known new faery tales being told, there is a huge field of new tropes being built and we should do our best to bring something different and good to the table.

Kickstarting myself again

Okay I have been way off this year.  So today I sat down and went through some of the images from around the web i have in my inspiration folder.  I use them to write little drabbles or flash fictions when I am down.  And as I am down enough to be in tears today for no real good reason it was definitely time to pull out some images and write something for each of them.  Now i have hundreds of images but I just pulled out a handful today and put words to them.  Some are actual drabbles, those little exactly 100 word story bits but others are more flash fiction.  Five minute tales that are all under 150 words.  So I hope you like them folks.  I will probably do more of them and kick myself out of the slump i am in.

People of Scraps By Lisa Williamson They live among us, though you wouldn’t know it.  Using the scraps of the modern world to keep themselves alive.  A discarded bit of wrapper becoming a tent, a torn piece of your shirt becomes clothing for them.  In the cold and cruel world, the place were no matter how big you are you can die, these beings find the simple comforts.   So go ahead, toss that cigarette on the ground.  Did you stamp it out?  Well don’t worry too much if you are in the city.  One of the tiny, lost souls will use it to stay warm.  What you don’t believe me?  Try looking.  I bet you will see them, hiding in the shadows. (not a drabble)

People of Scraps
By Lisa Williamson
They live among us, though you wouldn’t know it. Using the scraps of the modern world to keep themselves alive. A discarded bit of wrapper becoming a tent, a torn piece of your shirt becomes clothing for them. In the cold and cruel world, the place were no matter how big you are you can die, these beings find the simple comforts.
So go ahead, toss that cigarette on the ground. Did you stamp it out? Well don’t worry too much if you are in the city. One of the tiny, lost souls will use it to stay warm. What you don’t believe me? Try looking. I bet you will see them, hiding in the shadows.
(not a drabble)

The Girl with the wheel barrel By Lisa Williamson Everyday she works in your garden but do you see her?  Do you see the tiny girl with the wheel barrel pushing it filled with weeds?  Well I do.  She is a lovely little thing, doing her best to make your garden look as it should.  You say she is just a statue but do you really see?  When you aren’t watching, she pinches off the insects, pulls out the weeds and carts them away.  Every morning before the sun truly rises, she is out there working, making your walkway as pretty as can be.  Give her your thanks.  Even if she can’t hear you in the day. (not a drabble)

The Girl with the wheel barrel
By Lisa Williamson
Everyday she works in your garden but do you see her? Do you see the tiny girl with the wheel barrel pushing it filled with weeds? Well I do. She is a lovely little thing, doing her best to make your garden look as it should. You say she is just a statue but do you really see? When you aren’t watching, she pinches off the insects, pulls out the weeds and carts them away. Every morning before the sun truly rises, she is out there working, making your walkway as pretty as can be. Give her your thanks. Even if she can’t hear you in the day.
(not a drabble)

A simple drink By Lisa Williamson Watch him stretch to get just a taste of the clear water.  So bright and green, reflected in the sweet fluid, a simple creature that sees you not but you can see him.  Soon he will spin a blanket and sleep away a transformation.  Will he be more beautiful than he is right now?  I think maybe not for this is beauty in the simplest of forms.  The bright color blends so well with the new leaves of spring but here by the creek he is just a sign of something, something called hope.  Hope that soon summer will come.

A simple drink
By Lisa Williamson
Watch him stretch to get just a taste of the clear water. So bright and green, reflected in the sweet fluid, a simple creature that sees you not but you can see him. Soon he will spin a blanket and sleep away a transformation. Will he be more beautiful than he is right now? I think maybe not for this is beauty in the simplest of forms. The bright color blends so well with the new leaves of spring but here by the creek he is just a sign of something, something called hope. Hope that soon summer will come.

Wounded and wild By Lisa Williasmon He stands they before you, long hair spilling down like moonlight on skin firm.  His  eyes look deep into your soul and you don’t care.  There is a secret there between you, one that you are afraid to let be seen.  All you know is you want to lean forward, to caress those lips with your own and run your fingers over the scars on his skin, soothing him.  Will he let you or will he strike?  Can you sooth the beast that peeks out of those eyes or will it strike you and drain you of heart’s blood?  Take a deep breath beloved for you will never know if you don’t try it. (not a drabble)

Wounded and wild
By Lisa Williasmon
He stands they before you, long hair spilling down like moonlight on skin firm. His eyes look deep into your soul and you don’t care. There is a secret there between you, one that you are afraid to let be seen. All you know is you want to lean forward, to caress those lips with your own and run your fingers over the scars on his skin, soothing him. Will he let you or will he strike? Can you sooth the beast that peeks out of those eyes or will it strike you and drain you of heart’s blood? Take a deep breath beloved for you will never know if you don’t try it.
(not a drabble)

Two friends, the morning after By Lisa Williamson “I tell you she said if you come home she will forgive you.” “But I did nothing wrong.” The crow rolled his eyes at his friend.  “Look if you want to stay a horse then fine but I am going home.  She said either way she will change me back.” The stallion shook his mane and then nodded.  “Yeah I guess maybe I should go apologize.” “You got that right, buddy.” “How was I to know she was a witch?” The crow took off and called back over his shoulder.  “Maybe you shouldn’t have called her a cow either way, buddy.  You know ladies don’t like to talk about their weight!”

Two friends, the morning after
By Lisa Williamson
“I tell you she said if you come home she will forgive you.”
“But I did nothing wrong.”
The crow rolled his eyes at his friend. “Look if you want to stay a horse then fine but I am going home. She said either way she will change me back.”
The stallion shook his mane and then nodded. “Yeah I guess maybe I should go apologize.”
“You got that right, buddy.”
“How was I to know she was a witch?”
The crow took off and called back over his shoulder. “Maybe you shouldn’t have called her a cow either way, buddy. You know ladies don’t like to talk about their weight!”

Dreams on the Wind By Lisa Williamson I sat beneath the tree, watching dreams drift by.  Crystalline globes filled with images that never have been but just might be.  Watched them float on the unfelt breeze, moving toward those who needed them.  Simple desires and wild flights of fancy filled them, each with a destination.  No longer held in the boughs of my tree, they leave this place, going places I will never be.  I wonder if maybe if I lie down and dream, will I join them in a new world.  I wonder if I really want to.  I can’t decide so I sit and watch.

Dreams on the Wind
By Lisa Williamson
I sat beneath the tree, watching dreams drift by. Crystalline globes filled with images that never have been but just might be. Watched them float on the unfelt breeze, moving toward those who needed them. Simple desires and wild flights of fancy filled them, each with a destination. No longer held in the boughs of my tree, they leave this place, going places I will never be. I wonder if maybe if I lie down and dream, will I join them in a new world. I wonder if I really want to. I can’t decide so I sit and watch.

Forever caught By Lisa Williamson Slowly, oh so slowly I move toward you.  Our lips are almost touching.  Why can’t I go that last tiny bit?  Why don’t you?  We are frozen here, just a breath apart and longing fills me, does it fill you?  How long have we stayed frozen like this?  Just a breath away from the thing we both desire. Can’t you just move that final inch and give in to what we both need?  How long must I wait?  How long has it been?  I feel like we have been here forever.  Could it be we have? Beloved are we alive?

Forever caught
By Lisa Williamson
Slowly, oh so slowly I move toward you. Our lips are almost touching. Why can’t I go that last tiny bit? Why don’t you? We are frozen here, just a breath apart and longing fills me, does it fill you? How long have we stayed frozen like this? Just a breath away from the thing we both desire. Can’t you just move that final inch and give in to what we both need? How long must I wait? How long has it been? I feel like we have been here forever. Could it be we have? Beloved are we alive?

Yes!  It really is! By Lisa Williamson As he opened his eyes and stretched in his little home his nose twitched.  What was this?  Was it finally time to wake up?  He scrabbled forward and poked his nose out into the air.  Yes!  He scrabbled forward, his whiskers quivering with joy.  The warmth had returned, the grass had grown back.  He scampered and danced, climbing up the stalks and pulling the blossom to his nose.  The year and turned and spring had come.  The sweet smell of the flowers made him giggle. The birds nodded with a smile in their eyes. It was really springtime once more

Yes! It really is!
By Lisa Williamson
As he opened his eyes and stretched in his little home his nose twitched. What was this? Was it finally time to wake up? He scrabbled forward and poked his nose out into the air. Yes! He scrabbled forward, his whiskers quivering with joy. The warmth had returned, the grass had grown back.
He scampered and danced, climbing up the stalks and pulling the blossom to his nose. The year and turned and spring had come. The sweet smell of the flowers made him giggle. The birds nodded with a smile in their eyes. It was really springtime once more

A New Day By Lisa Williamson Walking slowly she thought of the day to come.  She had finally done it.  Had took that leap into the unknown and today was the beginning of a new day.  No more would she hide in the shadows, afraid of her own power.  No more the shrinking violet, the wallflower. No today she would let the world hear her voice, see her face and today they would understand that each and every word was her very own.  Walking into the light of day she would begin the first day of the rest of her life.  Proud and free, forever more.

A New Day
By Lisa Williamson
Walking slowly she thought of the day to come. She had finally done it. Had took that leap into the unknown and today was the beginning of a new day. No more would she hide in the shadows, afraid of her own power. No more the shrinking violet, the wallflower. No today she would let the world hear her voice, see her face and today they would understand that each and every word was her very own. Walking into the light of day she would begin the first day of the rest of her life. Proud and free, forever more.

Sheldon is back!

Well for all you fans of my Guardians of the Gate City series and of Sheldon in particular I have started a new tale with our favorite dragon as the lead character.  I had been doing some fun research on one of my all time favorite animals, the NorthAmerican Gray Fox and I got hit between the eyes with a story.

See the gray fox is a cousin of that wily critter, the red fox.  The Gray fox is much more intriguing to me though.  While i have written a bit here and there with fox characters in it. (Yes i know but Kitsunes are foxes right?) I thought it would be fun to do a tale with a shifter from this distinctly american cousin of the red fox.

As per my research on Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_fox

The Gray fox is found mostly in the Northeastern part of the American Continent.  up the stomping grounds of Harry and Sheldon are in the right place for this.  The Gray Fox is being pushed out by the movement of the red fox.  Sad but true.  But this particular fox is a wily beast for sure.  They are the only canid that can climb trees!  In fact they commonly lair 30 feet off the ground in trees.  Isn’t that cool?

Well my twisted mind came up with a tale with a good reason why one of these very shy creatures would head into the city to look for help.  And who else would be able to dig up information for a lady in distress trying to hold onto her family lands?  Well Sheldon of course.  If there is information out there in any form, Sheldon will find it.  It is what he lives for.  And to be able to do something for a pretty lady that even Harry couldn’t do?  Well you can imagine how excited he would be.

I have a new little friend being introduced in this tale, a sort of side kick for our Lore Seeker.  You will have to wait to meet him but i think you, my reader, will like Charlie.

Now how about a little excerpt?  I have only just written this down on paper, so this is the very roughest of rough drafts.

***

Sheldon sat back on his tail and studied the client before him.  She was dressed elegantly in a sharply tailor suit of dark tray wool with a gleemingly white silk blouse underneath.  The blouse’s mandarin collar caressed a slender throat of burnished bronze.

She had her hair pulled back in a complicate knot held in place by a piece of filigree silver.  It was an odd grizled red that looked out of place with her smooth skin but it was her eyes that gave her away.  A rich golden color that no human would have without special contract, they held a sly humor beneath the intensity.  “I am told you can find anything, Lore Seeker.”

Sheldon lifted a brow, hiding the glee at the title the woman used.  His brothers refused to give him a title and most of his clients just used his name.  There was  a bit of respect he could hear in her voice and he like that.  “Yes, if it has been written down, I can find it.  Just what can I help you find, Miss?

**

Short bit I know but I need to type up the rest.  This tale is zooming by.  Which is a good thing.  For some reason Destiny and her friends just don’t want to come together like they should, so I will be taking them off the current work list till they gel better.

If I am lucky I will be able to complete a few more shorts in the Side Stories line and get them out to you readers this month.